Bulgaria is very poor, After 45 years of communism, the country is also poor in ideas, as it is in money. It is not that the politicians are not trying to get the country back to a normal state of affairs, they just donít know how to get there, from where they are now. Otherwise you could say the system is broke. The harder they try, the worse things seem to get.
The hospitalís are falling apart, because there is no money to fix them. A person would think they were living in Africa, as far as the hospitals go, If a person brakes a leg, a relative must go get the material that is needed, before the doctor can set the leg. If injections are needed, a person must go to the drug (relative or friend.), (Apteka here in Bulgaria.) store and buy the needles and other things needed for this procedure. If you donít have any money, tough luck!!! most hospitals are so poor, there is not even any wheelchairs in the hospitals. So a person, will often see one person carrying another on his back, from one place to another.
There is little food in the hospital, so a relative or friend must bring a person food to eat, the food that there is in the hospital is eatable, but is not of good quality.
The ambulances are not much better. Inside there is little equipment and drugs to take care of the person who is being transported to the hospital. So if a person dies on the way, again tough luck!!!
During communism, everyone was paid almost the same, didnít matter if you were a doctor or a taxi cab driver. The director of a bank, is not paid much more then that taxi cab driver, everyone was paid the same, (Well almost.) because this is where bribes come in. If a person needed a service from a doctor, he or she were expected to pay a bribe. It could be something like a bottle of whiskey or some eggs or even a rabbit. This is the way it is, the head of a department in the hospital, who controls who does and who does not get into the hospital for elective procedures. This doctor would be bribed, to help a friend, so if a person needed something, they had better have a friend who knows someone who could get them, what they wanted. This is the system.
For the doctors, the system is even worse. A doctor is paid on average, less then $100 dollars per month. So the doctors need that bribe. But it is the head of department, who often gets the bribe.
Now we get to July, 2000!!!
A new system is in effect, and it is worse then what Bulgaria had before. Now the doctors are in business for themselves. Well almost!!!!!
The doctors must hire a nurse, cleaning lady, rent rooms, pay water, electric, heating and keep records for all the patients, taxes, etc.. All this money must come out of what the Insurance Company pays them each month. So far the doctors are only working for pension, and nothing for their pockets.
As it is very early in this system, no one knows how much any doctor is going to make, but you can bet it will not be much. The Insurance Company is in reality the Government, but the Government says this is not true. If you believe that, I still have that bridge, I would like to sell to you!!!!
The doctors are working day and night, as the hospitals donít offer any emergency service anymore, except for road accidents. All other health problems are now taken care of by a personís family doctor, even broken legs. If a person breakís his or her leg, they must contact their family doctor and if they donít have a car, they must hire a taxi or if they are lucky, have a friend take them to the hospital.
Out side the cities there is not any emergency service at all. So if someone shoots you, you die. Life is very cheap, in Bulgaria!!!! The system is really dumb!!!!!
If you do call the hospital emergency number, all you get is a medial technician, who makes life and death decisions over the phone. They will respond, if they think it is right. GOD help you!!!!
The doctors that were working at the Government offices, are still working at the same offices, but now the Government says that the doctors are on their own, now the doctors are tied to the Insurance Company, which is another way of saying, Mafia (Criminal.) It is just that the Government, wants not to take any responsibility and have let, the doctors hanging out on a limb, by themselves!!!!!!!!
Take the case for a telephone!!!! If a doctor wants a private telephone they must pay $100 dollars to have it installed. (One monthís salary.) Otherwise a doctor has to put up with a Government phone, if there is one and be restricted, to the monitoring that goes along with a Government phone. Not many doctors can afford the $100 dollars!!!
The doctors must put up with offices and treatment rooms that look like the year 1910. But the doctors on average do a really good job, and to see how hard they work, for so little money, it really is amazing!!!!
The Nurses are really working for nothing, they now get about $37-38 dollars a month after taxes, a little over $1 dollars after taxes, each working day, try to live on that!!!! Impossible!!!!!
One yogurt and one loaf of bread each day for one month, cost $15 dollars for one person. What about electric, water, heating, Etc.. More then half of the Bulgarian people have turned off the heat, for their entire apartment, and only have heat, when cooking!!!!!! Some canít even afford to even watch T.V.!!! This is life??????
This is very much worse then when everyone had Government Health Insurance. Because now everyone must pay (No choice). The Government is right out of money!!!
Treatment room As you can see, in the three pictures of Sasha (The child.) in the treatment room, it shows that the room is rather bleak, without much equipment and very old. It is a real wonder that the doctors of Bulgaria can do a good job of being a doctor, but they do, and under very trying conditions. Also some of the elected members of Parliament are trying to make the health system fail, as this would make it much easier for them to be re-elected. Not to worry about the doctors or the patients. Just like American politics.
Doctorís Office. Yuraís colleague, Dr. Emily is in Yuraís office, as she canít afford an office of her own. Yura and Emily are good friends and they do what they can for each other. Life is very hard in Bulgaria. As a Family Doctor, Yura now treats all ages of patients.
If you ever want to see a messed up personal transportation system, come to Bulgaria! Most of the food and cloths, that are bought for personal use, in the little stores, are carried home by walking. You see people walking home with many, many things in plastic bags. Myself, I have even seen a old woman caring a whole double window frame, including the window panes, on her back. I even seen one woman carrying 12 loaves of bread in her arms and the bread had no wrappers. You need to remember that people live closer together, here in Bulgaria. A sight a person sees, each morning, is people on the way to their work, pushing there two wheeled carts piled high with whatever they have to sell on the street or in these open air stalls, where they sell everything, included the kitchen sink. Or if they are lucky, they will have a four wheeled cart, usually made from a old baby buggy that only has its wheels and handle and a frame left. A few do have cars and even fewer with trucks. It is no wander that you will see a lot of old people walking down the street bent over at the waist and they canít straiten up.
Their are still some Gypsies who use the old broken down horse and a cart with car wheels. Even a person can see donkeys and carts, from time to time. But most of the things that are for sale in the stores, are transported there by car. There are few trucks and most of them are used in long distance hauling or really big items like kitchen stoves of refrigerators, but even now you can see people carrying these items home with the whole family being used in the effort.
A year or two ago, if a person was to take a taxi cab trip 40 time, to the same location, you would get 40 different fare prices. Now the government has passed a law that makes the Taxi cab driver use a meter and the rate per kilo-meter is printed on the side of the cab. So something good has happened. Still there is little rule of law.
It sure is fun when a person goes to the little, little stores and the items that you want to buy are not there, (As the people running these stores have no idea of how to run a store.) as the owners only buy for resale, what they want. It does not matter if the items are good sellers or not, it only matters what the store owners can transport these items in the back seat of their cars, even if they are lucky enough to own a car. It is no use to go to buy something, with what amounts to a $20 dollar bill in Bulgarian money, as the store owners most of the time cant even change a 10 dollar bill, equivalent even if you are buying something for $7 dollars. How to hell they expect to run a business this way, I have no idea!!! This is a system???
Today December 2, 1999 is a very, very important day. Gene went to Sofia to the U. S. consulate, to really, really, have it out, with the officers there. Gene was trying to get U. S. citizen for his daughter, Sasha. For about a year of trying, all Gene got from the Consulate, was an answer was, No, no, no, his daughter could only become a U.S. citizen through immigration.
Gene was sure he was right and the officials at the Consulate were wrong!!! Gene was thinking that, if he was a citizen, then his daughter, should automatically be a citizen too. So as Gene said, he was in Sofia and he was going to do what he had to do, to get this thing going. When Gene arrived in Sofia, much to his surprise, (Even before he opened his mouth.) the officials said, Here is all the paper work, go home and fill it all out, and come back next week and Sasha will be a citizen. Was Gene happy or what?????
Gene went back to Vratza and talked thing over with his wife, Yura. There was a lot of paper work to fill out and pictures for Sasha, as Sasha would be getting a passport, social security card and official registration also. On December 12, 1999, Gene, Yura and Sasha all went to Sofia, to the Consulate, paid $80 dollars in fees, and handed in all the paper work.
When the whole family went to Sofia, we decided to stay overnight with Yura's uncle, Prof. Sivtcho Sivtchev who is a 85 year old pathologist, who is still working. Sivtcho never married and at 85 years old, has the right to be a little different. He will get up several times each night to check to see that the door to the outside is still locked. When he gets dressed in the morning, he will get completely dressed and then will go and take a dump. He saves old double edge razor blades, Things like that!!!
There, Sivtcho is still working and will not spend any money, unless it is absolutely necessary. The last time Gene stayed overnight, the water pipe in the shower room was broken and so the water in the sink was turned off. Sivtcho will not spend money to heat even the shower room, so there is moister dripping off the ceiling, in the winter time, so that the hot water heater is rusting real bad, the toilet seat is wet all the time, etc.. A broken vase will set around for months and maybe even years, and someone else, will have to throw it away.
Yet over the years, Sivtcho has offered his home to his sisters son and his brothers two daughters (Yura and Lilly, Yura now is Geneís wife) and his sisters granddaughter for all of them to go to school to become doctors.
On December 16, 1999- Gene went back to Sofia to pick up Sashaís passport. Everything turned out good. A very happy day!!!!!
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